HILLSBOROUGH — You’d be surprised how smoothlybasketball can run without officials.
Now in its 23rd year, a 3-on-3 basketball tournament at Orange High School has grown from something barely more organized to a pick-up game to an annual event that gives students a chance to let their guard down.
The varsity sports season is over. Summer is almost here. So is graduation. The grind of winter is over, so let your guard down.
Unless you’re competing, of course.
This year’s 3-on-3, held last week in the school’s “Big Gym,” , was open to all students at Orange. If you were expecting the bickering of basketball playground flicks like “White Men Can’t Jump” or “He Got Game,” well, you would be disappointed. The only stress involved is trying to pick out a date for the event.
“Usually, we try to wait until all the varsity sports have ended,” said Orange varsity boys coach Greg Motley, who led this year’s Panthers to the 3A NCHSAA Regional Championship game in March. “We usually try to do it on a Thursday, but Coach Bobby Shriner (longtime Orange wrestling coach) loves to be involved. But he had a trip to Oklahoma for the Fellowship for Christian Athletes. So we moved it to Monday.”
The games themselves are simple. Play to 10 points, call your own fouls.
This year, the field comprised 20 teams, including two formed by Orange coaches. Motley joined assistants Brian Poole and Adrian Banks to form a squad. Varsity Girls Coach B.J. Condron had another.
To anyone who’s paid attention at all to Orange sports since August, it’s hardly surprising that Tae Jones was a member of the winning team along with A.J. Bradsher and Josh Bacon. Last fall, Jones rushed for over 1,500 yards for the Panthers’ football team that went to the third round of the state playoffs, and he also started for Motley’s basketball crew.
“Tae is just a silent competitor,” said Motley. “He doesn’t say very much, but he always wants to win regardless of what he’s doing.”
The runner-up team was comprised of three football players: Big Eight Defensive Player of the Year J.D. Brooks, starting wingback Patrick Pettiford and wide receiver Jeff Campbell.
The 3-on-3 serves as a chance for students to unwind. There are no intramurals at Orange because of shorter lunch periods. Some kids who don’t even play basketball wind up participating in the 3-on-3 just to have fun.
As for Motley, he’s already focused on next year. The disappointment after Orange’s 66-60 loss to Wilson Hunt in the 3A Eastern Regional finals caused him to forget about basketball – for about a week.
“It’s year round,” said Motley. “After we stopped moping about losing in the regional final, we started meeting with individual plans for the kids to improve on next year.”